Free Technology For Teachers: Integrating Technology is Like Painting a Wall

In Sunday’s Washington Post there was an interesting op-ed piece about TC Williams High School’s (the one made famous by Remember the Titans) struggles with technology integration. Click here to read the full article.

The article starts out by stating that TC Williams has the best of all the new technology gadgets, but faculty morale is at an all time low. The author, a thirty year veteran of teaching, says that at first he thought it was just his generation that was struggling with TC Williams’s new initiatives. He soon realized that even the young teachers were not happy. The author, Patrick Welsh, includes this quote from one of his younger colleagues, “It’s technology for the sake of technology — not what works or helps kids learn, but what makes administrators look good, what the public will think is cutting edge.” That young teacher makes a very good point, using technology just because it’s present doesn’t mean that it is improving learning. It’s important to remember that teachers need to be comfortable with the technology in order to be able to effectively incorporate it into their classroom instruction.

When I am teaching other teachers about technology integration I always stress the importance of getting comfortable with one application and try to use it in the classroom before branching out into another application. Typically for younger teachers trying too many things at once is an easy trap to fall into when it comes to technology. It’s easy to get excited about a new piece of technology and want to go right out an use it with students. But if the teacher doesn’t understand the bulk of the program that teacher and his/her students will be frustrated when things don’t go exactly as planned. More veteran teachers like Mr. Welsh sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of computer applications they could use, but aren’t comfortable using. The advice is the same try one computer application, get comfortable with it, then build from that base. This is like painting a wall, you have to sand and mud before putting on the primer and then finally putting on the glossy finish.

Is your school like TC Williams? Do you have advice you give to teachers just getting started with technology integration? Please leave a comment.


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